After years of a miscommunication and a deteriorating workplace culture, you finally came up with a brilliant solution. You found a technology that every employee can use to help increase communication and knowledge share plus amplify culture. It seemed like a win-win situation and you couldn’t wait to bring it to the attention of management, whom you envisioned would fall in love with the idea—but they didn’t. Sound familiar?
If you’ve had an internal social intranet project fail, you are not alone. Don’t take it personally though. It most likely had little to do with your superb idea. Below are the most likely reasons your plan got rejected as well as a few tips to get you back on track.
There are bigger things to worry about. Collaboration and culture are not on the to-do lists of many executives. It’s not that they don’t matter; it’s just that they’re buried after things like achieving growth, reducing costs, and improving operational efficiency.
• Tip: Provide stats on how collaborative organizations are more profitable. Also share research on how employees waste company time and money by searching for internal knowledge.
Management doesn’t truly understand social enterprise. First generation intranet platforms made it rough for trailblazers like you. Now when your boss hears the word social, he/she immediately envisions a Facebook or Twitter-like approach that takes employees away from the work that needs to get done. To some, social enterprise is just a passing fad.
• Tip: Demonstrate how modern social technology has evolved far beyond noisy platforms. Remind them also how email was also once considered a fad.
Culture (apparently) isn’t the problem. It’s isn’t always easy for management to admit their culture needs help. Partly because it might be admitting fault of their own, and partly because they might not even be aware culture is even a problem.
• Tip: Rather than whining about poor culture, elaborate on why companies with strong culture and high engagement outperform their competition.
Employees have work to do. Your company most likely doesn’t want employees throwing away valuable hours by chatting, irrelevant status up-dating, and other non-work related stuff.
• Tip: Again, this is all about educating them on the evolution of social enterprise tools. Make sure you are also pursuing tools that help employees work better, rather than distracting them away from their work.
The last tool implemented never worked. Internal collaboration tools have been around for over a decade. There is likelihood that similar tools were once deployed; only they didn’t work. They probably weren’t adopted internally, and were difficult to navigate. They undoubtedly also contain stale information; like a phone list from 1995.
• Tip: Have an adoption plan ready that doesn’t burden employees. Maybe throw in a contest or two to promote employee usage. Also, ensure the technology you choose provides a simple user experience.
It doesn’t integrate with existing infrastructure. Social enterprise technology must work well with existing technology. If it doesn’t, you will not only annoy your boss, but your IT department will resent you as well.
• Tip: Do your homework ahead of time and choose a solution that integrates well with current systems. For example, if you are in a Google environment, find a tool on the Google Apps Marketplace.
There is no ROI. Isn’t it annoying that no one ever asked for the ROI of the telephone? Unlike a lot of enterprise technology, it isn’t as easy to justify spending money on a tool that cannot produce an immediate ROI.
• Tip: While it may be difficult to quantify the exact ROI, there are a still a lot of metrics that a social intranet tool can play a role in. How much time are your colleagues wasting searching for information within your company? Concepts like employee engagement may also be difficult to measure but the underlying KPI will be a reduction in turnover costs.
You are an early adopter (Or your boss is a laggard). Social enterprise might have officially jumped the product adoption chasm, but this doesn’t mean everyone is willing to adopt it right away.
• Tip: Late majority and laggards require documented proof that something works before agreeing to it. Be patient and come armed with testimonials and case studies.
Remember, your boss WANTS employees to work better and smarter. If you can find the right technology that accomplishes this while improving culture and collaboration, the entire company will benefit. And of course, you will look like a star.